Supreme Court precedent dating back to the 1970s and 1980s precludes state and local jurisdictions from limiting financial contributions to committees formed to support or oppose ballot measures or from barring corporate expenditures in ballot measure campaigns. These precedents emerged from the Supreme Court at the time of its greatest hostility to campaign finance regulation, when it viewed such laws as impermissibly impinging on the rights of free speech and association guaranteed by the First Amendment.
The initiative process was created originally to enable citizens to enact public policy directly and, in so doing, to overturn the dominion of interest groups and of state and local party machines. In recent years, initiatives have been thought to serve as a check on legislative authority and to provide the people with a means to pressure the legislature into adopting more public-regarding policies. Indeed, the general consensus emerging from the most recent academic research is that, at their worst, initiatives are benign and, at their best, they serve to further the interests of electoral majorities.
When it comes to money in politics, academic research has a difficult time establishing that the resources spent by special interest groups influence the formation of legislation, the passage and defeat of ballot measures, and the identity of the winner in candidate elections. For example, the academic literature on ballot initiatives suggests that campaign expenditures raised to pass initiatives have little effect on passage rates; if money has had any influence at all, then it may be in opposing initiatives. Elisabeth Gerber finds the evidence so weak that she concludes, “the empirical evidence provides further basis for rejecting the allegation that economic interest groups buy policy outcomes through the direct legislation process.” Other scholars have found that when special interests want initiatives passed, “money spent by proponents in this arena is largely wasted.” Also some works in the academic literature on campaign spending and campaign contributions find that their effects on political outcomes are small.
Perhaps more than any other political phenomenon, incumbents’ capture of political institutions through the manipulation of the rules of the electoral game has commanded the attention of scholars of the law of democracy in recent years.
With the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (“BCRA”) of 2002, Congress enacted the most sweeping reform of the federal campaign system in nearly thirty years. Commentators hailed the bill as the “most far-reaching and controversial attempt to restructure the national political process in a generation” and as the answer to Americans’ demand for reform “in order to reclaim the power of their voices and their votes.” When the Supreme Court endorsed virtually the entire bill as constitutional in McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, it set the stage for the 2004 election, the first to be held under the new campaign rules.
Most First Amendment analyses of U.S. media policy have focused predominantly on “behavioral” regulation, which either prohibits the transmission of disfavored content (such as indecent programming) or mandates the dissemination of preferred content (such as children’s educational programming and political speech). In so doing, commentators have largely overlooked how program content is also affected by “structural” regulation, which focuses primarily on increasing the economic competitiveness of media industries. In this Article, Professor Christopher Yoo employs economic analysis to demonstrate how structural regulation can constitute a form of “architectural censorship” that has the unintended consequence of reducing the quantity, quality, and diversity of media content. The specific examples analyzed include (1) efforts to foster and preserve free television and radio, (2) rate regulation of cable television, (3) horizontal restrictions on the number of outlets one entity can own in a local market, and (4) regulations limiting vertical integration in television and radio. Unfortunately, current First Amendment doctrine effectively immunizes architectural censorship from meaningful constitutional scrutiny, and it appears unlikely that existing doctrine will change or that Congress or the Federal Communications Commission will step in to fill the void.
This Article embarks on a reconstruction of constitutionalism in the early American Republic through a microhistorical case study of United States v. Peters, the first Supreme Court decision to strike down a state law. In the last half century, the Supreme Court has repeatedly asserted that it is the “ultimate expositor of the constitutional text.” From Cooper v. Aaron to United States v. Morrison, the Court has invoked no less than the authority of Chief Justice John Marshall and his opinion in Marbury v. Madison to burnish its claim of judicial supremacy. Several legal scholars have recently come to question this assertion, arguing that judicial supremacy deviates from the path of the Founders and is of a more recent vintage. This Article both extends and questions the important project of these critics.
This Article develops a novel analytic framework for the evaluation of regulatory policy in cyberspace, flowing from a reconceptualization of cyberlaw’s central premise: software code as complementary to law rather than its substitute. This approach emphasizes the linkage between law and software; for every quantum of legal-regulatory impact, there is a corresponding equilibrium of regulation-by-software. The absence of a legal right will stimulate a technological response – and such incentives will moderate with increased rights. Rather than “code is law,” this is “code meets law.”
The judicial appointments process has grown increasingly frustrating in recent years. Both sides claim that their candidates are the “most meritorious” and yet there is seldom any discussion of what constitutes merit. Instead, the discussion moves immediately to the candidates’ likely positions on hot-button political issues like abortion, gun control, and the death penalty. One side claims that it is proposing certain candidates based on merit, while the other claims that the real reason for pushing those candidates is their ideology and, in particular, their likely votes on key hot-button issues. With one side arguing merit and the other side arguing ideology, the two sides talk past each other and the end result is often an impasse. To get past this impasse, we propose placing judges in a tournament based on relatively objective measures of judicial merit and productivity. A tournament allows the public to test the politicians’ claims of merit. Being able to test these claims helps make transparent the occasions in which the real debate is over ideology. It is harder to disguise a purely ideological candidate as the best from a “merit” standpoint when the candidate performs poorly relative to many other judges based on objective factors. Once merit-based arguments have been isolated (or at least reduced in scope) to factors related to the tournament, it should be possible to have a transparent and meaningful debate over ideology.
The following tributes commemorate the May 2004 passing of David Carroll, one of USC Law School’s most beloved and well-respected professors. Professor Carroll was a member of the faculty from 1975 until his retirement in 1992. These pieces evidence the many wonderful contributions that Professor Carroll made to the Law School and the lives of those around him.